An Interview with Jim Fagan, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, Global Cloud Xchange

Editor’s Note: Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) recently announced plans to build a new PoP at Equinix’s MC-1 data center in Muscat, Oman.  The announcement comes at a time when the Indian Ocean/Mediterranean region is recognized as a strong market for bandwidth demand, while also emerging as arguably the hottest market for new submarine cable systems. 

With that backdrop, SubCableWorld recently had the opportunity to speak with Jim Fagan, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer for GCX, to discuss the strength of the market and GCX’s strategy for meeting the needs of customers in that region.  His comments are below:

Jim Fagan: The Middle East has been a strong region for us to serve.  We’ve been there since the original FLAG FEA cable was built.  Our core asset now is the FALCON cable, which runs from Dubai to a Persian Gulf loop that connects all of the Gulf countries.  Then there is a direct subsea route from Muscat up into Egypt.  We offer a mesh solution with the cables we have – FALCON, FEA, and Hawk – to Port Said and Alexandria through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean.  Those are our prime assets in the region. 

We serve all sorts of customers: the large OTTs, the new gaming companies, the cloud players wanting to put their PoPs in the Middle East, and others.  That entire region is scorching hot for bandwidth demand.  We were at Capacity Middle East recently and the enthusiasm is extremely high. 

We’ve been traditionally serving our customers from our FALCON cable, but there are a lot of new cables that will be coming into that region over the course of the next three years.  Right now what we’re seeing in the market is that there is a need for route diversity to bridge that three-year gap.  That was a clear message from customers at Capacity Middle East.  Obviously, we want to serve a lot of the gaming and cloud companies that are going to be in MC-1 in Muscat as well, but another reason why we have gone to Muscat is that a lot of the new cables won’t land there. 

An area that we’ve found to be a successful solution in the last nine months or so is putting together bundled solutions for our customers.  Our Middle East teams are extremely knowledgeable in putting these together using our cables. Instead of the traditional method of going out and quoting tails and the like, we go out and work with some of the regional providers and use some of their routes, whether it’s terrestrial or other subsea, to put the entire solution together.  That way we can come up with bundled offerings to customers that give them more of the diversity they need right now while they’re waiting for those new cables.  We’ve seen a lot of push for our terrestrial route out of the Middle East and up into Europe.  We’ve been able to work with Horizon Telecom in Iraq and Turk Telekom on putting together a fully-redundant solution from our FALCON cable that goes to Sofia and Frankfurt, for instance.  Customers were extremely interested in that.  Other cables can pick us up at MC-1 and interconnect with that solution as well. 

So that’s the way we’re looking at the market and how we can fill that need for additional route diversity.  We’re in conversations with those new cable providers and consortia members on how we get capacity on some of those cables.  That’s an active workstream for us. 

Last year, GCX was purchased by 3i Infrastructure plc, a private equity firm out of the UK.  That transaction should close sometime during the Summer of 2022.  They are quite keen for us to expand the network and we’re doing that through partnerships on both the submarine and terrestrial sides. 

I think one of the differences we’re seeing in the Middle East is that a lot of the carriers are starting to realize that the markets are beginning to open up.  We’re starting to see some of these open data centers and cable landing stations and partnering is one of the best ways to go about this.   We have established partnerships with regional carriers to offer unique and diverse routes to the Mediterranean. We have the partnerships for the terrestrial cable route across Iraq and Turkey.  We’re involved in partnerships on the submarine side.  That’s how we’re looking at the market, using partnerships to expand options and build turnkey solutions.  We’re pretty excited about the traction and the growth in this region.